Eating to Live · Fitness · Gluten-Free Food · Kids · Mom Life · Plant Based Living · Uncategorized · Vegan Food

Food as Fuel and Setting the Example

I like having abs that I can physically see in the mirror. That might seem vain but to me, it is evidence that the effort that I am putting into my health and fitness daily is working. I also like that I have a bicep that shows up when I flex, to me it is a sign that I am getting stronger. I like that my shoulders have become more defined, to me that means that I didn’t quit on myself when it got hard.

However, these are not the things that drive me. I fuel my body with healthy foods because I like having energy, not having pain, and pooping on a daily basis. I chose to exercise regularly because I like how I feel happier, more at peace and energized when I do it. The knowledge that I can confidently wear anything in my closet is pretty incredible, but it is not my motivhaute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-healthy-food-nutrition-54ation.

I have been my “goal size” if you want to call it that for several months now, and my commitment to my lifestyle has only gotten stronger. It turns out that when you get a taste of what feeling good is like you want more of it. While my life is less indulgent than it may have been previously, I am generally happy with where I am and don’t feel like I am missing out (except for the occasional pizza).

I chose to eat healthily and exercise as an example to my kids of what it looks like to have a healthy lifestyle. I feel better because of it which in turn makes me a better mother to them. I am also motivated by my desire for them to have a good relationship with food. I want them to grow up wanting to eat healthy foods so that they don’t have eventually break bad eating habits. I get to be the one who says “no” now in order to make it easier for them to say “no” later. With a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes, I am okay with being the “uncool mom” that feeds her kid’s carrot sticks and grapes instead of Cheetos and Oreos.

If you are reading this and just got offended, I am sorry, please hold off on the scathing email and let me finish.

I truly and genuinely believe that food is fuel. The more that I learn about what fuels me and my kids and how our bodies respond to it has changed how I feed them.haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-healthy-food-nutrition-11

It turns out that when I feed them gluten my eldest gets a rash and my middle child gets a stomach ache. When I feed them anything with red or yellow dye in it they turn into little energizer bunnies that cannot contain themselves. With dairy their allergies are worse, there are more rashes, and more “I don’t feel good complaints.”

Giving my kids foods that I know is not in their best interest would be irresponsible for me because I know better now. Because I am very intentional about our diet I hope to raise happy, healthy children who also see food as fuel and maintain a positive relationship with food.

There are still plenty of sugar filled, processed foods that exclude these ingredients that I could feed them. Thankfully for me, they are a tad more expensive which means that they are a treat and not an everyday thing. Although I do wish that gluten-free bread was less expensive overall we have all adapted to their food limits. It is hard sometimes when I have to tell them “no” to everything everyone else is having when we are out? Yes, absolutely because there are times that under other circumstances I would have allowed it.

Would you like to know what makes it harder? Other adults offering my children food that they can’t have. Other adults telling them that they should be able to eat something,” just this one time.” Other adults lecturing me in front of my children about how limited their diet is, this actually makes it harder for them to accept.

As moms we all try to do our best, instill values, and lead by example and we all do it a little differently. What is something that you do as a parent that is a little unconventional?

haute-chocolate-styled-stock-photography-healthy-food-nutrition-43

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Kids · Mom Life · Uncategorized

I Am Giving Them A Gift

Do you ever feel like you are just expected to know things that no one has ever bothered to teach you?

I felt this absence of knowledge the greatest in relation to parenting. You have a baby, they give you a quick rundown at the hospital on how to feed it, swaddle it, change its diaper, and then they remind you to not leave it in the bathtub by itself and they send you home. As though somehow the rest is just going to innately fall into place. Thank heavens for mom friends who have gone before you that can help fill in the gaps, and for Google which will answer all of your 2:00am poop-related questions. Seriously, thank you Google.

 

Parenthood isn’t the first time that we are left to just “figure it out” and I honestly feel like that is how the whole “adulting” phenomena came about. Someone found a word to describe that feeling of, “oh, crap! I am the grown up in the room, now what?” You know that feeling. The one where you have just accomplished something for the first time that is basic but it was new to you and you kind of muddle your way through it.

 

Knowledge is a gift and teaching someone how to apply that knowledge is one of the greatest things that you can teach them. I am feeling this strongly this week because this is a teaching week in our house, more so than normal. I have a sweet nine-month-old that hasn’t learned how to sleep yet. For my first born this was something that he naturally was great at, my second born we didn’t teach until he was two because I didn’t know that this was a learned skill. In many ways my first and my third are alike, I had hoped the sleeping department was going to be one of those commonalities. It is not.

 

She is learning and it has had some growing pains. I wish that I could say that it has all been easy, but it has been a difficult process for all of us as she learns how to do this on her own. I am tired, she is tired, and her brothers are tired as this has affected everyone’s sleep. I know that teaching her to sleep is a gift not only for her as this is something that she will benefit from her entire life, but also a gift for our family. Even though it is not fun for me I know that we are teaching her something valuable, something that she won’t have to just later figure out on her own.

 

Then there is my first born, he is a strong, independent, intellectual, and high emotion child. I get the privilege of not only teaching him to tie his shoes, write his name, and count but also how to calm down when he is upset, ask from something that he would like, communicate when he is frustrated, and speak the truth. I am in the process of adapting many of my morning habits to a level that he can also participate because I want him to learn now how to love himself, to prepare for his future, and how to treat others with respect and human dignity. I make no assumptions that these are things that he will naturally figure out on his own. Someone has to teach him and that someone is me.

 

As a parent, one of the great disservices that you can do for your children is to fail to teach them and then punish them for not living up to your expectations. Life is a process of continuing education and as you continue to learn, hopefully, you will continue to do better. Teaching your children is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them.

Mom Life · Uncategorized

How Social Media Causes Fear & Failure

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~ Fred Rogers

 

Thanks to technology and social media I knew that before I even sat up this morning that something tragic happened last night on the other side of the Country. “Praying for Vegas” was vaguely littered throughout my feed and with a few more swipes I came across an article detailing the events of a shooting in the Las Vegas. Immediately my heart hurt for those involved and I questioned what was wrong with people that this would happen.

 

Two major contributors usually are the cause of humanly caused tragedy such as this. One is terrorism and the other is mental illness, sometimes it is both. Sadly neither of these are new issues and neither is likely to go away anytime soon. What has largely changed in the last 15 years is the access to information that makes events such as this larger than life and allows them to feel as though they are happening to us in our front yard.

 

Social media allows us to be united one day and divided the next. It creates a platform to share every stupid word spoken or thoughtless act to be publicly announced not just with a photograph and the opinions of one writer in a National news outlet but with raw video or screenshots of the written statements. We get sucked in. No matter how great or small we all have our own opinions and we allow those opinions to build walls instead of bridges.

 

Then, already disappointed in humanity because we have been fighting with one another, events such as a shooting happen and all that we see are the negatives. We allow one person or one group of people speak for the nature of all mankind. Please understand that these events ARE sad, I am not trying to minimize that. I am only trying to shed light on the fact that we allow them to cast fear in us even though they were an isolated incident. Then we forget. In a day, a week, or a month those not directly impacted by the devastation (whatever it may be) move on unaffected.

 

There is always that niggling in the back of your mind that it could have been you. It could have been your family. This happens with every tragedy and it robs us of our joy. Be sad, but be sad because of the loss of life and the families hurting. A time of hurting is not the time for politics or heavy weighted opinions. It is a time to love, support, and to reach out. A time to donate money, or blood, or whatever resources you have at your disposal.

 

Let us be different. Let us be the change. Let us be the light in this current darkness. Let us share hope. Let us remember the good. Let us not be the ones who allow our online connections destroy our offline relationships. We are better than that.

 

In every event like this when most people are running out away from the scene, there is always someone else running in. Those that help minimize, solve, rescue, revive, heal, provide, and protect. Look for them and let them be a reminder to you that ALL is not bad. There is still good we just lose sight of it.

 

Then go out of your house and engage with the people around you, make a human connection. Smile and make eye contact, say hello, slow down and act like a decent human being. There is enough negativity out there without you getting all bent out of shape because someone cut you off or your Starbucks order was made wrong. Go be the good because we really do already have enough bad going around.

Eating to Live · Fitness · Gluten-Free Food · Mom Life · Plant Based Living · Uncategorized

My Postpartum Workout Journey

When you find yourself in a situation that is hard you typically find yourself there for one of two reasons. The first is that you didn’t expect to be there and you have to go through it to get to the other side. This could be something like the loss of a loved one, getting laid off, or a health issue. The second is because you know that it is building you up for something and you have a really strong, “why” to endure it. This could be enduring college to be able to get the job of your dreams, working two jobs to pay off debt, or giving yourself injections every day as a part of fertility treatment in order to grow your family.

 

Obviously these are pretty extreme examples but generally, when we do something hard we have a good reason. Unless you are me. Then you just do things that are hard to prove that you can. I didn’t plan to do it this way, I honestly thought that I would still be working my way back into my skinny jeans by the time that I started this program. I was 7 months postpartum and at 3 weeks postpartum I was in a car accident in which I sustained injuries that prevented me from working out. I had started working out again the previous month prior to starting this program and since I had only fully completed one 30 day workout I assumed I would have a way to go.

 

Well by the end of week one my skinny jeans were fitting comfortably and I honestly did not have a why that was any bigger than that to continue with a hard program.

 

Here is my journey and what ended up happening….

 

When we announced this program launching I was pretty disinterested, it was designed for athletes which I am not. It is cardio, which I hate. It has a grain free meal plan, which sucks. It builds up to 45-minute workouts + an ab workout which has you working out for up to an hour (abs were only 3x per week). My jam is the less than 30-minute workouts because I have three children and the attention span of a gnat. So here I was trying to decide how I am going to avoid doing yet another cardio intense workout that I have zero interest in while still being able to talk intelligently about it.

 

Then I went to Punta Cana and watched one of the workouts live (I was still injured at that point and not allowed to participate) and wow. The level of energy, the focus, the mental connection. This workout gets in your head. It was affirmations, visualizations, positive self-talk, and self-love all going down while you were drowning in sweat. I have never seen anything like it. I literally stood in the back of the room crying and knew that I needed to be a part of it when it came out.

 

When I got the all clear to start working out again (with modifications) I committed to a core workout and promised myself that I wouldn’t skip a single workout because I needed to get ready for this new program. I didn’t miss one. Shocked? Yeah, me too! I have been doing a home workout for four and a half years and I have never done every workout, only worked out the days I was supposed to, and finished on time. In fact, never have I ever come close to doing that. I think the closest that I have come is taking 9.5 weeks to finish an 8-week program. Usually, I would just skip the day that I missed and move on without that workout. This was really huge for me. I also got amazing results from it, way better than I anticipated.

 

When I started this program I was seven months postpartum, I had done some leg workouts for a few months kind of inconsistently. I had done a complete nutrition overhaul including a three week cleanse, and I drank a nutritionally dense shake every day. I had completed the thirty-day program. That is how I got here and this is where we started.

Shift Shop Before Photos

Day One: There may have been cursing. I had a charlie horse, I got shin splints, and I was winded as though I ran 18 miles up a hill. Or at least what I imagine running 18 miles up a hill would be like since I have never personally experienced that. It was brutal and I was pretty confident that there was no way that it was only 25 minutes. I had JUST finished a program that had 50+ minute workouts, how was I possibly be this out of shape? Also, did we have to start with cardio? Really?

 

Day Two: Weights, yay! I like using weights. Still dying. Holy bananas this workout was really hard. I was sweating harder than I was during cardio, how is that even possible?

Shift Shop Workout

Day Six: I think that this got easier, okay I can do this.

 

Day Seven: Rest day! Hallelujah! It is our last day eating beans though. Kind of a big deal on my vegetarian diet.

Shift Shop Tacos . Shift Shop Budah Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Eight: How did adding ten minutes make this seriously so much harder? Is it okay that I just cried through this whole workout? I have so many emotions right now. I am so proud of myself for doing this and for all that I am accomplishing.

 

Day Nine: I just did this whole workout with heavy weights, I am a badass! I can do anything. Literally, let’s go.

Day Eleven: Why do these weights feel so much heavier today?

 

Day Fourteen: I am hungry. I am tired. I am crabby. I want a long nap and all of my carbs back. I don’t know why I am doing this. I should just quit. At least quit the meal plan, this is insane. No one should live like this.

 

Day Fifteen:I hate this. Who thought that 45 minutes of cardio was a good idea? Okay, I stand corrected. That was amazing and I feel awesome!!! Completely spent but seriously proud of myself. I feel more connected to myself. I usually tune out the voices in my head while I work out and now they are ever present. Also, this bathroom selfie? Yeah, I am impressed.

Shift Shop Progress Photo 2

 

Day Nineteen: I just finished my LAST 45-minute cardio workout. I can’t believe that I did this.

 

Day Twenty-one: I did it! I stuck to the meal plan and workout for 21 whole days and I feel awesome! My head is clearer, I am more focused, and I feel more in tune with myself. Somewhere in the last three weeks, I lost my excuses for not showing up for myself, I dealt with my emotions like a big girl and didn’t bury them in food, and cardio has become my therapy.
Shift Shop Before and Afters

Note on cardio as my therapy: I feel like I can say this as a therapist with some level of expertise. The therapy session itself is NOT designed to make you feel good. It is usually hard and uncomfortable and it makes you vulnerable. It is designed to help you process, work through your struggles, and help you create a plan. However, the real work usually takes place when you leave the session and put it all together, in action, in real life. Cardio for me does much of that; it is hard and uncomfortable and leaves me breathless and feeling vulnerable. But the endorphins from it, the pride I find in showing up for myself, the elation as I watch myself grow in this area…. It is all worth it.

Shift Shop Affimations

I knew when I started this program that there was something that I needed grow in with this program. It turns out that what I needed was the reminder that great things and massive momentum come outside of your comfort zone. Even if you aren’t sure why it is worth it at the moment, take the leap and do something outside of your comfort zone anyway.

 

Hit reply and let me know what you are planning to do. I can’t wait to hear about your new opportunity for growth.

 

PS – as a side note, I did this entire program/ meal plan with no dairy, eggs, meat, or soy. I had one serving of fish per day and the rest was entirely plant based with low inflammatory foods. I also was breastfeeding (x2) and was able to sustain my milk supply with no issue.

Shift Shop Pasta

Eating to Live · Gluten-Free Food · Plant Based Living · Uncategorized · Vegan Food

Gluten-Free and Vegan Carrot Cake

Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake, Carrot Cake… these three have always been my favorites in the dessert world. I know that some people don’t like cake, I am not one of them. In fact, I would almost say that I prefer cake to any other dessert. When my mom mentioned the other night that she wanted Carrot Cake I couldn’t help but agree. We then sat there and reminisced about my middle child’s first birthday and how amazing his cake was.

Pumpkin Themed 1st Birthday Vegan Carrot Cake

Here is the thing though, we went gluten-free almost a year ago. I have learned a ton about gluten-free cooking and baking but the reality is that not everything can be replicated. At least not without using a bunch of artificial stuff that is worse for you than if you had actually consumed the product that you were avoiding in the first place.

I tried making a carrot cake for my own birthday a few months ago and although it was tasty it was sorely lacking. I knew that this was one of those things that I could replicate, I just had to figure out HOW exactly to do it.

To keep things really fun in my creative cooking department we have also always been “egg free” and added “dairy free” about a year ago as well.

But…. I wanted Carrot Cake so I decided to take the challenge.

The challenge:

Create a gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free cake that tastes and feels like a cake. That holds together like a cake. That can be enjoyed like a cake, and bonus points if it also actually looks like a cake when all is said and done.

 

So, I got out the recipe box and dug out Grandma’s Carrot Cake recipe. I started with the egg conversion because that is what I am most familiar with and went from there. After what I deemed to be a reasonable conversion I went to the kitchen to try it out and I am happy to announce that it was a once and done project.

Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Cake

I REALLY like this version of this cake. It is hearty, spicy, flavorful, and not chalky. I cooked it in an 8-inch pan and if I had used a 9-inch one it would have had a little more room to rise which would have made it slightly less dense.

Alright, that is enough of the backstory since I know that you are here for the recipe.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering about the frosting, I made this delicious Cashew Butter Bream Frosting by the Minimalist Baker and it is so good that I could eat it on anything. It is slightly lemony which I personally thought paired great with the cake but if I were making it for a group I would probably scale back the lemon just a bit and add a tad more vanilla.

 

Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free & Vegan Carrot Cake

The Ingredients:

2 cups of gluten free flour

I used 1 cup of  //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=doryheadlee-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B019IKHIGG&asins=B019IKHIGG&linkId=fc2924e4204d12e5a74226ff1c74881b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=a32a85&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Bob’s Red Mills 1:1 Baking Flour & 1 cup of //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=doryheadlee-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00DL9LNNU&asins=B00DL9LNNU&linkId=5ca94e2e9c0238fff96871da11d26faf&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=a32a85&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Almond Flour

1 cup of sugar/sweetener

 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=doryheadlee-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B0013JJZWG&asins=B0013JJZWG&linkId=6c17cd9bf560fc4d4f2f5ce57c25abdf&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=a32a85&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>xanthan gum

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

3 cups grated carrots

½ cup //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=doryheadlee-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00Y8HZS1W&asins=B00Y8HZS1W&linkId=cd670d7ba4b938a78100d59e2929a032&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=a32a85&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>coconut oil (or other plant-based oil)

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

3 flax eggs (mix 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of water and let thicken)

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

 

The Process:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, carrots, oil, applesauce, and flax eggs and stir until well combined. Stir in walnuts and raisins

 

Grease and flour 2 cake pans (use 9-inch ones). If you really want to make your life easier get two pieces of parchment paper and trace the cake pan on them. Cut out the circles and lay them in the bottom of the pan. This basically guarantees that your cake will come out of the pan without sticking in the middle and I like guarantees.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and tap the pans to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Once cooled remove the cake from the pan (peel off the parchment paper if you used it) and frost it. I have no tips here… this is not my area of strength even though I once planned to go to school to be a pastry chef and I spent a summer in high school working in a bakery.

 

Once frosted, refrigerate until ready to eat. This is more for the sake of the frosting than the cake. If it is chilly where you are and the frosting won’t melt if left out, then don’t worry about it. We Floridians don’t have that luxury so I always put everything in the refrigerator until it is ready to eat.

 

 

 

Egg-Free Carrot Cake

(the cake itself is also Vegan)

 

The Ingredients:

 

2 cups of flour

I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of unbleached white flour

1 ½ cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

3 Cups grated carrots

3/4 cup coconut oil (or other plant-based oil)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 flax eggs (mix 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 4 tablespoons of water and let thicken)

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

 

The Process:

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 

Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the vanilla, carrots, oil, applesauce, and flax eggs and stir until well combined. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

 

Grease and flour (2) 9-inch cake pans. If you really want to make your life easier get two pieces of parchment paper and trace the cake pan on them. Cut out the circles and lay the in the bottom of the pan. The basically guarantees that your cake will come out of the pan without sticking in the middle and I like guarantees.

 

Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans and tap the pans to remove any air bubbles.

 

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Once cooled remove the cake from the pan and frost it.

 

Honestly, the last time I made this amazing cake I wasn’t dairy free yet so I made a traditional cream cheese frosting but you could also use the Cashew Butter Cream here if you want a truly vegan cake.

 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 ounces of cream cheese – softened

¼ cup of butter – softened

 

Beat until fluffy.

Slowly add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beat until smooth.

Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

 

Quick Carrot Cake

 

Enjoy and comment below if you try these, I would love to hear what you think.

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